Alright, I've even been thinking about creating a whole platform for this and will probably still do it, thanks to Construct making it so easy to test and prototype ideas, but I've been thinking about this a lot.
Now, I'm not even looking for the golden answer right now, I just wanna throw this into the room and see what'll happen.
Some of you might have seen what I've been dabbling with. I'm a character artist and I worked in the industry for a while, but I never got the chance to do more than just a component of a game or a cinematic - cause I can't program and because todays games are so far away from being one-man productions. And I'm the type of person who'll probably never learn a programming language, that's just too technical and boring for me to grasp. If I don't 'see' things as I create them, I get bored. So thanks to the Construct team for putting this out - Construct is reasonably simple to put me into the directors position without having to have a lot of financial backup nor having to have a reasonably sized team in the background.
So, the thing I've been working on is a sidescroller with a big focus on story. The idea is that I'm gonna explore more cinematic game experiences - Like, a lot of the industries top games in the recent years have been created by developers that were highly inspired by Eric Chahis 'Another World' (http://www.anotherworld.fr/anotherworld_uk/) - if you've never tried it, go ahead and give it a try, it's still worth it. Hideo Kojima (Konami) and Fumito Ueda (Team Ico) have both publicly stated that their games were heavily influenced by Another World. And there's a reason for that.
The game was great. It was the first time that a game really felt dynamic (even though it wasn't) and your actions were nicely paced and happened because of a reason. You didn't just jump on monsters heads to blop them away, you had this cinematic gameplay that just felt completely different than anything else ever done before. If you killed an enemy, it felt a lot more 'real' than killing a Goomba in Super Mario.
There was just one problem with Another World and the sequels and clones that followed: The game was the most linear thing ever. It was meticulously planned out from A to Z. If you didn't follow what Eric had in mind while creating the game, you'd die. And you'd die a LOT. Like, at least 500 times until you complete the game and I'm not even exaggerating here.
And of course that's frustrating. Also, I think that sorta gameplay worked in the past, cause we used to have more time in the past. There was no internet, we had fewer opportunities and interestingly enough some other games and genres used to work and sold a lot of copies - namely games where you had to try out a hell of a lot in order to get through it. I don't think that a game like Another World, where the premise is to make mistakes and die, then learn from it so often til you finish the game would work in today's world. I think it'd get horrible reviews because of it. Nobody wants to invest so much time for something so trivial. Such frustration - by todays standards - is unbearable. Honest to god: If you'd buy another world for 10 bucks at an Online Store like Steam or Xbox Live Arcade and then you'd die 20 times in 10 minutes and still don't know the right solution: Would you keep playing it?
I know I would 'shelf' it and probably never look at it again. Even if the 10 minutes were pretty good, I'd probably think my time is more valuable than that.
I also think that's why Point and Click Adventures completely died out. They were good, well produced, really well written and they were funny - but solving sometimes really ill-perceived puzzles just wasn't a lot of fun. It was a lot of work to get to the short moments of fun. And the biggest mistake you could make is to make your game feel like it's work.
Now, to give this thread some meaning, I'll just ask you guys: How would you solve that problem? How do you tell a good story in an interactive experience (read: a game) that's not completely linear so that you'll die a gazillion deaths until you find out the one right way to go?
Todays games aren't built that way. They're mostly built up like Fast Food. Cause we don't have the time anymore and we want to be rewarded quickly. Experience systems, I can level up my characters, developers draw the audience into the game - mostly not because they want to tell them a great story that will probably inspire them or that they can learn from - but because they appeal to their, let's say, 'raw instincts'. I think that's also the reason why games generally aren't considered to be 'art' yet - cause people don't express themselves in them.
So, how do we mix it? How do we solve the puzzle? What games would you like to see going forward? Are you happy with the games that are being produced right now? Do you even care about titles like Resident Evil 5? Gears of War 2? God of War 3? Halo 3? Doom 4?
From a story and an emotional point of view, I'm certain that the 'cheap tricks' that have been used in games so far (like letting Aerith die in Final Fantasy VII) are fairly amateurish (in the sense that a typical bullshit novel probably has more death packed into its first 20 pages), but it doesn't seem like bigger games are interested in finding a solution (see Gears of Wars 'emotional moment') - or it's too risky to bet your game on something that could arouse your fan-base (that in turn finances your development), so what we see happening is a lot of bloat right now. Cause bloat is safe.
How could this problem be solved?